Fundraising and the Elderly: A Content Analysis
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- Gregory, L.D. J Consum Policy (2014) 37: 5. doi:10.1007/s10603-014-9254-4
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Direct marketing, as an avenue for fundraising, provides nonprofit organizations with the ability to fulfill their missions and donors the opportunity to support a worthy cause. There are concerns, however, when sophisticated marketing practices target potentially at-risk consumers. Demographic studies clearly show that the percentage of elderly Americans, aged 65 and over, is rising with a corollary increase in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These facts suggest this may be a group whose defining characteristics make them especially vulnerable. This exploratory study identifies and qualifies persuasive tactics used by several linked nonprofit organizations targeting one elderly Alzheimer’s victim over a 14-month period. The carefully designed direct mail solicitations utilize appeals that engender low elaboration likelihood and peripheral route processing. In addition, there is some evidence that even those appeals that might encourage high elaboration likelihood become heuristic cues for individuals with cognitive decrease. Taken together, the incorporation of multiple tactics within each solicitation, an approach referred to here as shotgunning, may have significant implications for future research and practice in communication, ethics, and public policy.